Will Digital Entities Want To Play In The Big-Budgeted TV Game?

Where does one market TV shows in the new digital age? Do you need a big-branded network like HBO or NBC to power up pricey TV dramas and other programs, or will these traditional "brands" come to an end? Will YouTube, Twitter and Facebook be enough?

Jeff Bewkes, chairman and chief executive officer of Time Warner, recently told the New York Times: "The problem now is not a lack of choice but a surfeit of choice; there's too much stuff... How do you introduce people to new things? People are always looking for new things. The way that you do that is that you have an environment, a programming position that stands for something."

Right now, for all the coolness factor of a Facebook, a Twitter, a YouTube, those entities, in and of themselves, don't have the wherewithal to put on --and here's the key here, market --  big-budgeted TV shows, something that consumers still seek.



More important, the biggest digital entities don't, in their present form, have broad-based marketing strengths to garner enough scale to launch a single TV show. It still comes down to using television networks -- even modestly rated TV networks -- as the marketing tools.

TV Land, for example, was able to launch a new show, "Hot in Cleveland," recently. ABC Family did the same with "Melissa & Joey" -- all because they were "networks," where they could cross-promote. Individual digital entities -- even a collection of the biggest -- can't, at the present time, do this.

Maybe YouTube or Facebook will be able to do this, say ten years from now. Or maybe they might not want to get involved.

If everything is about micro-niche-targeted programming, it still comes down to getting the word out to consumers in large enough numbers. New original scripted fictional Web series on or Sony Entertainment's "Crackle" have their own set of digital TV finances. But one doubts this model will be the end game, say, 20 years from now.

If Time Warner's Bewkes doesn't seemed too ruffled about the future, it could be because top TV productions on the likes of HBO or TNT, hold some precious cards -- that of quality content consumers still desire.

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